Hike The Coast!
A while back we posted a list of some of our favorite Gorge Hikes. Here is another quick reference list for family hiking on the Oregon Coast. There are PLENTY more to choose from but hopefully this provides a few ideas. Listed from North to South:
Tillamook Head: This trail gains quite a bit of elevation (about 900 feet) so it can be challenging for the kids but you will be following in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition! You can access this trail from the north in Seaside (parking is free) or from the south in Cannon Beach at Ecola Park (day use fee). Really a great trail but be prepared for many rest stops and it is recommended for older kids who may enjoy the historical connection as well as the natural beauty.
Cape Falcon and Neahkahnie Mountain Trails: Both of these hikes can be accessed from Oswald West State Park. The hike to Cape Falcon leads through a coastal forest and ends at the top of the cape. It is about 3 miles round-trip.
Neahkahnie Mountain is the only peak on the north coast that rises directly above the sea. You can travel on the trail through the woods and past the Devil’s Caldron back to the highway. If you make the return trip from this point the total hike is about 2.5 miles. If you want to continue up the mountain, cross the highway and be prepared for an elevation gain of about 1200 feet over the two miles to the top. But you will enjoy spectacular views of the ocean when you get to the summit (do it on a clear day!). Take US 101 to Oswald West State Park (about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach). No fee.
Munson Creek Falls: Not right on the coast but only about 8 miles from Tillamook this is the highest waterfall in the Coast Range. Dropping over 300 feet, the falls are a dramatic sight and the hike is an easy ½ mile each way. Take US 101 about six miles South of Tillamook and then head east on Munson Creek Road for 2 miles. No fee. If you like waterfall hikes, check out this recent article in Oregon Coast Today.
Cape Lookout: Cape Lookout is one of the best whale-watching sites on the Oregon Coast. The ideal whale watch season is winter but there are hundreds of gray whales that stay off the Oregon Coast in the summer, so you may still see one this time of year. The hike is about 5 miles round-trip. Go to Cape Lookout State Park located off of US 101, 11 miles southwest of Tillamook to access the trail head. Day use fee.
Cascade Head Trail: This one is on our to-do list. Mainly because it offers access to an area that is home to the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly as well as a variety of rare wildflowers. The trail is six miles one way and can be accessed from the north or south. Both trail heads are off of US 101 a little south of Neskowin, Oregon.
804 Trail: This is an old road that is now part of the Oregon Coast Trail. It starts at Smelt Sands Park in Yachats. It passes a lovely rocky coastline that is great for exploring – especially at low tide – and ends at a seemingly endless sandy beach. Level, easy and about 1.5 miles round trip. Turn west on Lemwick Street just after you enter Yachats on US 101. No fee.
Cape Perpetua Hikes: There are many to choose from in the area. All are perfect for kids. Take the St. Perpetua Trail up to the lookout (about 3 miles round trip). Although up hill there are plenty of views early on to keep the motivation going.
Other trails in the area include provide access to the blowhole near Cooks Chasm (plan your trip for high tide) and to a giant sitka spruce. Both of these hikes are level and easy and only about two miles round trip. All of these trails can be started from the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center located 2 miles south of Yachats on US 101. Day use fee.
Heceta Head Lighthouse: This area is just a little north of the Sea Lion Caves. The beach next to the parking area is a great spot for a picnic, wading in the water, and kite flying. The trail to the lighthouse is only ½ mile (1 mile roundtrip) and you may be able to enjoy a tour of the lighthouse at the top. On US 101 about 13 miles north of Florence. Day use fee.